After being homeless for about a year he was leaning against the brick wall of one more shelter. The shelter was only three blocks away from the brightly lit main street.
It's shops festooned with all the trappings of the season. For all that, those three blocks might as well have been a thousand miles.
The street lights above the shelter were harsh and strong. So harsh they kept the beauty of December's cold stars hidden. It seemed as though even the heaven's were not for the poor.
He looked at the long line in front of him and the longer line behind him. He couldn't help wondering as Scrooge had, were these the shadows of things yet to come?
These were his throughs when someone yelled, “How many?”
“Everyone, for tonight we remember the stable and those who were sheltered there,” said the man who opened the shelter door.
Quietly they shuffled in to be fed. Since this was a full time shelter there was no turkey or dressing. No pumpkin pie.
The meal was beef stew with thick cut carrots and potatoes. The beef was skimpy, meant mostly for flavor. Everything was unseasoned. Not for dietary reasons, but for cost.
Even the Kool-aid was unsweetened to save money to help more poor.
Once his tray was full he started to find a seat. When an old man stopped him say, “wait.”
He watched as families, then couples, then single men and women found seats.
He found a seat and sat his tray down. He started to sit when the old man stopped him again saying “wait.”
He watched as another old man sat an empty tray at an empty place and then found his own spot as other men came behind him. Each one taking a spoonful of stew from their tray and putting on the empty one.
After it was full each man found his seat.
The man who had placed the empty tray down began to speak.
As he did, most folks bowed their heads. A few looked straight ahead.
“Folks may think it wasteful for we who have nothing, to share what food we have with one that some don't even believe exists.
Still, we have hope that by sharing our lot with him, such as it is, he will share his love with us.
All who agree do so by saying Amen.” With one voice they said, “Amen.”
Then they all sat and began to eat.
While they ate they talked and laughed. For a moment forgetting their troubles.
Watching them as they shared their joys and sorrows. He knew that if any of them got back on their feet again there would be a place at their table.
A place for a lost soul down on his luck. Even if they were alone, there would always be a place set for God.